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Blending the Voices of Disparate Customers

August 27th, 2008 by Joseph P. Merts

Choir singingSeveral months ago I published an article entitled “Who’s Your Daddy” which discussed why it is imperative to listen to the disparate (and sometimes contradictory) voices of different customers. Since that time, I have received several inquiries about the mechanics of exactly how one blends the voices of conflicting business, consumer, and regulatory groups into a single “VOC” for a Quality Function Deployment. The intent of this article is to answer those inquiries by giving an overview of the two primary processes for blending the requirements from these disparate groups, namely: “Percentage Translation” and “House of Quality Folding”.

Glasgow Gun Company Example

The following fictional example will help to explain the processes for combining the requirements of separate groups into a unified “voice of the customer”:

The Glasgow Gun Company manufactures rifles. They market primarily to 3 different consumer groups: the U.S. military, U.S. civilians, and various U.S. police departments. In addition to manufacturing rifles, they also manufacture rifle scopes (both infrared and traditional), gun cases, trigger locks, rifle racks, ammunition, and other rifle accessories.

In speaking with their business executives, their chief priorities for their “A Class” rifle line breaks down as follows:

Table of Business Requirements and their Relative Weights

Note that the first requirement has nothing to do with any external consumer groups, but is rather a purely internal initiative. In fact, this initiative might cause the company to do things that would conflict with the wants and desires of consumer groups. For example, in an effort to increase accessory sales, the company might make modifications on their rifles that require the use of their own proprietary scopes (even though certain customers may prefer Bushnell or other scope manufacturers’ equipment).

The company’s second business requirement (”Comply with U.S. Federal & State regulations”) does not reference a consumer of Glasgow’s goods either. However, it does refer to a customer of sorts who has the ability to impose requirements that can stop Glasgow from being able to sell their product to other consumer groups. The following table lists some of the government requirements that Glasgow has to keep in mind when producing rifles and ammunition for “general civilian” ownership. Since none of these regulations are any more important (or any less-enforceable) than another, each of them is granted the same relative weighting.

Table of Government Regulations and their Relative Weights

The third through fifth Business Requirements in the first table are essentially rating the relative priority of different consumer groups for Glasgow. Imagine that Glasgow surveys each of the different customer groups and comes back with the following lists of requirements:

Tables of Consumer Requirements and their Relative Weights

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 27th, 2008 at 9:00 pm and is filed under House of Quality, Advice, Voice of the Customer, Remodeling the HOQ™, Quality Function Deployment, QFD. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can also leave a response.

1 response about “Blending the Voices of Disparate Customers”

  1. Scot Duguay said:

    In reviewing the contents of the website, I was trying to find suggested methods/approach for collecting “Demanded Quality” (aka Customer Requirements). I suppose methods include: face-to-face customer visits or perhaps internet surveys. Is anyone able to elaborate on how they have been successful in collecting Customer Requirements from a)direct consumers, and b)from business customers- which can be later used to begin the QFD exercise?

    Thank you,
    Scot

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